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Safe, sustainable, premium: The future of Canadian food

  • 3 min read

Evidence of shifting food trends is all around us. In addition to results from consumer surveys released by various organizations, you can see the trends reflected in the advertising of retailers.

Large grocery store chains are promoting local and Canadian-produced food while also promoting the fact that they are promoting local. The Canadian dairy industry has tapped into the trend by running a major promotional campaign highlighting the safety and sustainability of Canadian milk.

It’s important to follow and understand food trends since they can have a direct effect on your business.

For producers, it’s important to follow and understand the trends since they can have a direct effect on business. For instance, with grain production, buyers are increasingly wary of glyphosate applied to crops pre-harvest. Richardson International, a major buyer and processor of Canadian oats, has joined other buyers in no longer accepting oats where glyphosate has been used as a harvest aid.

Find your opportunity in today’s challenges

For many producers, this makes oat production much more challenging, but those watching trends in consumer preferences were not surprised. Further restrictions on glyphosate in many crops would seem likely. Being a trend-watcher can help keep you ahead of the game.

Even when you’re well aware of changing preferences, the ramifications can be difficult to decipher. During the early onslaught of COVID-19, the meat supply from many large processors was temporarily restricted and consumers turned to local and regional abattoirs. Is that interest in smaller abattoirs a business opportunity?

Surveys indicate consumers are very price conscious and will be even more so if food prices escalate. Small abattoirs are unlikely to be viable unless they can extract a price premium. Therefore, to capture a change in preferences, a new local or regional abattoir needs a strong business and marketing plan.

Read and research trends

It’s also important to quantify the market reach of each trend. Will plant-based protein products such as Beyond Meat capture a significant share of meat consumption? How important is this trend for producers of both grain and livestock? Opinions differ, but the trend has resulted in an opportunity for some field pea producers.

A number of pea protein fractionation plants are being established and these will provide a new market for the crop. The new large Roquette plant at Portage la Prairie, Man., offers a price premium for peas produced following specific protocols.

While some producers will benefit from access to a pea protein plant, the magnitude of the trend needs to be kept in perspective. The vast majority of Canadian peas will continue to be exported whole to countries around the world and that will be the main determining factor for prices.

It’s important to recognize food trends and evaluate their longevity, but it’s even more critical to realistically evaluate how your business is likely to be affected.

Timely knowledge and careful planning are key

  1. Follow the trends. Be aware of what buyers and consumers are asking for and see if this will be a new requirement for doing business or whether it provides a business opportunity. FCC Ag Economics provides regular updates and unique perspectives on national and global events that impact Canadian agriculture.
  2. Realize that some consumers are willing to pay more for food that meets their expectations while others shop for the lowest price.
  3. Prepare a strong business and marketing plan – know your goals and your audience and buyers before making significant new investments.

From an AgriSuccess article by Kevin Hursh.


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